Purdue’s schedule does not get any easier with one of our toughest remaining road trips tomorrow night. Michigan State, like Michigan, has been playing some excellent basketball of late. They have pretty much been killing everyone since losing at Louisville in early December. Their closest margin in Big Ten play is nine points in this weekend’s road win at Ohio State. They appear to be running away with the league along with Michigan, as those two are the only teams left unbeaten in league play.
I can say with confidence this is probably the least likely win left on the schedule.
From: East Lansing, MI
Date : Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Tip Time: 9pm
Location: East Lansing, MI
Arena: Breslin Center (14,797)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
2017-18 Record: 30-5, 16-2 Big Ten (Big Ten Champions)
2018-19 Record: 13-2, 4-0
Opponent Blog: The Only Colors
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 68-54
Last Michigan State Win: 68-65 at Michigan State on 2/10/2018
Last Purdue Win: 80-63 at Purdue on 2/18/2017
NCAA Tournament History: 32 Appearances (21 consecutive), 1979 & 2000 National Champion
Coach: Tom Izzo (586-227 in 24th season at Michigan State)
As we know, Michigan State cost Purdue the Big Ten title last season. Their late 3-point win in East Lansing was part of it, but the furious comeback at Northwestern a week later was also critical. The five point comeback win at Wisconsin in the final game also was big. The Spartans flamed out against Syracuse in round 2, but they were a deserved champion in winning the last 12 games of conference play.
And with the 4-0 start they enter this game on a 16-game regular season Big Ten win streak. We had a common non-conference opponent as they beat Texas by 10 in Las Vegas in late November. They lost to Kansas and Louisville, but have taken care of business against everyone else. On Saturday they looked really good in winning at Ohio State.
This is your typical Tom Izzo team in that it is insanely talented and loaded with guys coach Painter couldn’t quite land. They have a big three of Cassius Winston (17.7 ppg, 7.6 apg), Nick Ward (16.7 ppg), and Joshua Langford (15 ppg). Langford has missed the last two games with a foot injury. He is questionable at best to play against us.
Winston and Ward have been excellent, however. Winston had 25 points and 5 assists against the Buckeyes. Ward is a dominant interior presence with 21 points and 8 rebounds. He is shooting an astounding 66.2% from the floor and is a tough physical matchup for us.
Speaking of guys coach Painter couldn’t land, Xavier Tillman is having a great sophomore season. He is averaging 8.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He is shooting an astounding 69.9% from the floor too. Matt McQuaid is shooting well at 44.4% from three and Kenny Goins is a rebounding machine at 9.3 per game.
This is a typical Michigan State team in that they are big and physical up front. They lead the conference in scoring at 87.1 points per game, are second in shooting at 50.9% from the floor, and they are defensive demons by holding teams to a Big Ten best 37.3% from the floor. What REALLY scares me is that they are the best three-point shooting team in the conference and we are the worst at defending the three. They are the best rebounding team too.
This is going to be a tough one. It certainly looks like a huge mismatch on paper even if Langford is out. We’re going to have to play our best basketball of the season to even have a chance.